Archive for June 2012
I fell in love with baseball listening to Jack Buck broadcast the St Louis Cardinals. I would lay on my bed in the dark, looking out my window at the starry sky, and let the sounds of the crickets and my AM transistor radio take me away. What a team the Cardinals had! Lou Brock, Orlando Cepeda, Bob Gibson.…
When we relocated to SoCal, my new adopted team, of course, had to be the Dodgers. And all of Los Angeles is blessed with their announcer, who has been spinning stories for Dodger fans since 1950. Yes, this is Vin Scully’s 63rd year broadcasting Dodger baseball.
Vin is 84 years old, and he’s cut his schedule back so he only does games in California and Arizona. He does have some senior moments. He confuses names now and again. But his pipes are sound, his vocabulary is unequaled in sports broadcasting, and his fans adore him. Of COURSE the Dodgers have a bobble head giveaway for him this year; he is more beloved than the players. To paraphrase Babe Ruth, he’s having a better year.
You may have heard Vin doing CBS NFL games in the 70s and 80s, or NBC MLB games in the 80s. You may even remember him as the announcer in Kevin Costner’s best baseball film, “For Love of the Game.” Vin paints pictures with words, and brings games to life on radio and TV.
His play-by-play is great, but it’s the stories and thoughts that he weaves through the games that make him a hall of fame announcer.
Against the Giants 6/28, Top of the 4th:
“Interesting statistical note; we were talking about the fact that the Giants have had 121, and this will be 122 consecutive sellouts, so a sellout means 42,000 and change, right? OK, the Giants say their home attendance averages 41,000 … so you say, ‘So how does that work?’ ”
Against the Mets, 6/29, bottom of the 1st:
In a discussion of the NY Mets’ starting pitcher, Chris Young, who is 6’-10” tall – and not the tallest player on the Mets’ roster! –
“If there are youngsters watching the ballgame, they might ask you the question, and in case you don’t have the answer, we’ll be happy to give it to you. … Who was the tallest person in history? … The tallest person was Robert Pershing Wadlow, born in Alton, IL, and he was 8’11”. … Just in case anybody asks you ….”
Also 6/29, bottom of the 4th, as the Dodgers break a 33-inning scoreless streak, their longest since 1962:
“Ring the bell, alert the orchestra, the Dodgers score on a triple by Tejada!”
(note the triple was by Herrera, not Tejada … who was the Met making the relay throw, not the hitter. But the alliteration was better the way Vin called it.)
To watch Dodger baseball is to hear a master at work. Do yourself a favor and listen to him this season. We may not hear his kind again for a very long time.
According to some, I’m very rude. Surprised? Me, Mr. Nice Guy, Mr. Eagle Scout, Mr. Yes, Ma’am, Mr. Holding Doors Open … me? Rude?
Now, it’s true that I sell things for a living. I’ve sold a lot of things … from signs on roller coasters to accordion lessons. And as a seller, I’ve made countless cold calls. I’ve intruded into people’s lives to persuasively present opportunities to them. I always courteously listen to them.
Not interested? I understand. Don’t want me to call you again? No problem.
A couple of weeks ago, I called a business owner crazy person who went off on me about my daring to call and speak with his staff. Crazy person. I forgive him (and he is now on my blacklist).
Today, I called a business manager who apologized for not calling me back after I called him twice, emailed him twice, sent him a letter…. He apologized to ME, and I was truly touched. He didn’t owe me anything … he did not owe me a call back. But calling me back would have been polite, no doubt.
Are you polite?
- Don Celso Reposado **
- Lunazul Blanco **
- 3 Amigos Reposado **
- El Tesoro de Don Felipe Reposado **
- Marquez de Valencia Reposado **
- Herradura Reposado
- 7 Leguas Reposado
- Muchote Reposado
- Sol de Mexico Tequila Reposado **
- Gran Centenario
- KAH Tequila Reposado
- Casa Noble Reposado
- 1800 Reserva Reposado
- Jose Cuervo Gold
- Reserva del Maestro Dobel Diamond
- Pueblo Viejo Reposado
Remember our goal is to find the perfect tequila for the perfect margarita. Three of the tequilas in the bottom half of the ratings are very highly recommended: Muchote, KAH and Casa Noble are all tasty. My working theory is they just don’t play well with others.
The surprise of the First Big Taste Test was the dark horse winner, Don Celso Reposado. Not only did Don Celso have the best rating over all, it also got 4 clear first place votes from the 11 judges. No other tequila got more than 1 first place vote.
Another clear winner was Lunazul (I love visual puns the best). Lunazul is relatively inexpensive, so this tequila is the obvious early favorite to take the crown for “Recommended for Big Parties!” It did get 1 first place vote.
3 Amigos (1 first place vote) and El Tesoro were small surprises; neither had impressed in the preliminary tastings, but they did rise to the top when they needed to!
Two tequilas surprised that they were not rated higher.
Marquez de Valencia Reposado is very highly recommended, and we had to drive many miles just to buy it. I expected more!
Sol de Mexico was distinguished in the early tastings … I wholly expected that this would be my favorite in the taste test. ‘twas not to be, but I’m keeping it in the competition to see if our initial tastings were right or wrong.
Our taste test, our rules.
After some discussions, we’ve decided to take those 6 tequilas (marked with **) on to the next round as we search for the perfect ingredients, the perfect recipe … the perfect margarita.
When you work, work. When you’re not at work … you need to go away, and not live your life for work.
We’re all on a shorter tether than we used to be. Smartphones are ubiquitous, and family, friends, peers and customers all expect quick answers. And by quick, I mean … within minutes. You don’t win points for a response to a loved one that’s 4 hours after you first got the text. 4 minutes is OK. 40 minutes is annoying. 4 hours is just not OK. (Kids: I’m working on it. Honest.)
Last weekend, Velda & I went away to San Diego to attend a wedding. Stress had hit us both leading up to this weekend escape, so it was very important that we get away. That we could enjoy the most romantic of ceremonies with the family and friends of two lovely people is surely one of the best reasons to leave work behind and go away!
- No Schedule
- No Plan
- No Worries
I had looked for some restaurants that would perhaps lead us into the right mood, and after some “in the moment” research, we decided to go to Crazee Burger. It’s been featured on the Food Network’s “Diners, Drive-Ins & Dives,” and we hoped it would be our kind of place.
The food was great. I had tatonka; Velda had the daily special. All good … but that was just the beginning.
I knew that we had achieved our goal when we began brainstorming how we could open our restaurant in Santa Clarita. It could feature the fabulous burgers, pizza and margaritas that we’ve created. I’ve gone on record before saying that I will never open a restaurant, but when we were talking about our new business, I was all in. Velda was all in. The fantasy took us away … and the stress of the workweek was left far, far behind.
We had gone away. And that is a very good thing.
The goal is to craft the ultimate Margarita … not find the best tasting tequila. Therefore, we followed the suggestion first seen on The Goodist, and created a taste test to showcase tequilas in a standard Margarita recipe.
The classic Margarita recipe was just too tart for the family members that were tasked to sample some of the preliminary mixes. The classic margarita recipe has a proportion of 3:2:1
- 3 parts, tequila
- 2 parts, lime juice
- 1 part, orange liqueur
The Goodist suggested a “tequila forward” recipe of 4:1:1, but that was similarly unacceptable to our palates. We settled on a 6:5:4 recipe, as follows:
- 1-1/2 oz, tequila
- 1-1/4 oz, margarita mix
- 1 oz, Grand Marnier
Further, we decided that we would not put ice in the samples, as that would dilute the recipe based on when the sample was drunk. Therefore, we addded a cup of water to the Margarita Mix recipe, (hopefully) simulating the melting of ice. Hey, it’s our taste test; we made up the rules.
We then had to choose 13 tequilas to go into the final test. In the weeks leading up to the first big taste test, we had “pre-gamed” with almost all of the tequilas, and there were already strong opinions on those that just wouldn’t do. Therefore, we excluded 3 tequilas from the first formal tasting. Excluded:
- Jose Cuervo Gold … In our first preliminary and blind taste test with 4 tequilas, all 4 judges rated this tequila the worst sampled. “It tasted like fish.” I advocated keeping this in, as it is the # 1 selling tequila in the world, but I was overuled. Excluded.
- Pueblo Viejo Reposado … A relatively inexpensive reposado, it also didn’t make it out of the preliminary tastings. Cheap, but no good.
- Reserva del Maestro Dobel Diamond Reposado … an expensive artisan tequila that had a too bright, perhaps over-filtered flavor. I’m not a brewmaster, but I’ll tell you this tequila tasted awful. I bought it at BevMo, where another tequila buyer commented on what a lovely bottle the tequila came in; that’s true. They should have invested in the product, not the packaging, IMHO.
The 13 remaining tequilas were all mixed about 3 hours before the taste test, and refrigerated until they were poured into the tasting cups.
Each drink was rated in 4 categories: Aroma/Nose, Initial Taste, Finish and Smoothness. Perfect rating would be a 20 from each judge, and we had 11 judges.
This was a blind taste test; the only person who knew which tequila was in which bottle, initially, was me. By the time the tasting began hours later, I only remembered the number of one of the tequilas. After the tasting, I didn’t know which was which and I didn’t care.
All tasting cups were put in a tray with crushed ice to keep the samples cool.
We mixed the equivalent of 5 cocktails for each tequila. We then poured 11 samples, which were roughly the equivalent of 2-1/2 cocktails total of each. If you consumed all of each sample … which most did not … then you were drinking 2-1/2 cocktails. Too much for a taste test? Probably. But everyone filled out their ballot after drinking perhaps half of each sample. No one thought their judgement was impaired. Later on … when all of the excess samples were dumped into the “number 14 Margarita” … well, it was a good night.
When the tasting began, the 11 judges were seated around the dining room table. Everyone had water to drink, as well as access to tortilla chips (salt!) and guacamole.
The results? I was surprised.